GREAT EXPECTATIONS – WHAT DO MENTEES WANT FROM THEIR MENTORS AND THEIR SCHOOL?

Today we have a new blog post from one of our fantastic authors, Jonathan Gravells, author of Mentoring: Getting it Right in a Week. Here he explores what exactly mentees want from their mentors and their schools.

Agreeing clear expectations, at both and individual and school level, is one of the proven ingredients of successful mentoring. Here are some expectations that would come at the top of our list.

6 things you should expect from your mentor

  1. Credibility & competence – There are skills and knowledge associated with being a good mentor and you should expect your mentor to have taken the trouble to acquire these. Do they have to have more experience than you as a teacher? Well not necessarily, as plenty of successful peer mentoring partnerships can demonstrate. However, mentoring partnerships often benefit from mentors having different experience, as this enriches the learning.
  2. Willingness to learn – Competence does not mean your mentor knows it all. We can all get better at what we do and your mentor should role model this. Furthermore, in the best mentoring partnerships the mentor learns from exploring their mentee’s experiences too.
  3. Attention – Good listening is important of course, but great mentors do so much more than this. They give their full attention to their mentee, in an effort to really understand what motivates, frustrates or frightens them, and to find ways forward that will really suit them, rather than simply conform to some established formula or standard.
  4. Empathy – Because they have taken the trouble to really understand what makes you tick, great mentors will be able to put themselves in your shoes and realise why you respond to situations and events in a particular way. But they will also remain objective enough to help you question these responses.
  5. Challenge – So, empathy and supportiveness are key to good mentoring, but we also learn from having our assumptions and preconceptions challenged. The best mentors help us to tackle things we might not otherwise have had the confidence to address.
  6. Freedom to be your best self – Great mentors do not impose their strategies or recipes on you. They acknowledge that good teachers are not all stamped from the same mould, and the most successful ideas and improvements will be those that suit your personality and strengths.

6 things you should expect from your school

  1. Clear purpose for the mentoring – Unless your school is clear about what it wants to achieve from mentoring as an institution, then what kind of message is it sending mentors and mentees?
  2. Proper evaluation and improvement – Demonstrating the impact of mentoring, justifying the continued investment of time and money on this aspect of continuing professional development, and finding ways of making it work even better will reinforce everyone’s commitment to the process.
  3. Proper training and ongoing support – As the recent National Standards for ITT mentors rightly point out, mentors (and I would argue mentees) need not just adequate initial training in the skills and techniques of mentoring, but processes to ensure continued improvements in practice.
  4. Time – Unless schools find ways of allocating sufficient time to mentoring as part of staff development, the evidence suggests mentors and mentees will struggle to maintain commitment to the process.
  5. A positive environment – Another crucial observation from the National Standards is that mentoring can only thrive in the right environment. This means a sensible separation from performance assessment and monitoring , demonstrable support from the top, and respecting the need for mentoring to take place within a safe space.
  6. Agreed definition and ground rules – This positive environment will benefit significantly from clarity around mentoring roles and responsibilities and the basic ground rules governing these learning conversations.

Jonathan Gravells, Director of Fargo Associates, January 2017

If this blog post interests you, why not look a bit further? Details of Jonathan’s Mentoring: Getting it Right in a Week can be found on the Critical Publishing website. In addition, why not have a look at the other titles in the In a Week series; Lesson Planning: Getting it Right in a Week by Keith and Nancy Appleyard and Behaviour Management: Getting it Right in a Week by Susan Wallace.

If you have any questions, you can reach me at keisha@criticalpublishing.com – as always, we would love to hear from you!

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The Personal Tutor Self-assessment System

Good Morning people!

Today I have some great news- the authors of our book ‘Becoming an Outstanding Personal Tutor‘ have put together a FREE resource for you to use!

Becoming an Outstanding Personal Tutor-Front

A bit about the book

Personal tutoring and mentoring is often referred to as the support side of the teachers’ role. This text is therefore vital in ensuring outstanding practice in that field. Given the new Personal Development, Behaviour and Welfare Ofsted inspection grade, this is a subject that is especially relevant to teachers in the current climate.

The book is relevant to any pre-service or in-service trainee teacher or existing practitioner with a personal tutoring role, a specialised personal tutor, manager or anyone in a learner-facing role within further education.

About the FREE resource

Ben Walker and Andrew Stork have created these two documents to allow their readers to continually self-assess their own practice and that of their institution. You can access these documents by clicking the links below.

Individual Self-assessment Form

Institutional Self-assessment Form

 

** Ben and Andy‘s book is NOW only £17 on our website– where everything is 15% off till the end of April…

So don’t miss out some great deals!

Meet Emily!

TGIF! The end of the week is finally here (hurray!) and with that is our last extract from Ben Walker‘s and Andrew Stork‘s new book ‘Becoming an Outstanding Personal Tutor’. This extract is especially exciting because it demonstrates just how interactive the text is! So have a read, enjoy and without further ado, meet Emily!

Pg. 106: CASE STUDY, Supporting Emily

A support manager has received a safeguarding file about one of your learners, Emily, from the school she attended prior to college, and has suggested you read it. Below is an extract from a report in the file.

15 July

From Chris Wilkins, Head of Year 12, Shotley Park Secondary School

Emily was removed from the care of her birth parents at the age of nine. This was as a result of reported abuse and neglect. She has been in foster care since that time. There were behavioural problems at school resulting in an exclusion from her previous school. Emily has difficulty with authority figures and in taking responsibility for her actions. Emily’s emotional state can be unpredictable and she can overreact to situations if feeling threatened or overly pressured. The educational psychologist’s report suggested Emily has a younger emotional age than her 15 years nine months. Academically, Emily excels at certain focused tasks, more on the practical side.  Socially, Emily can find it  difficult to mix with new peers and tends to form separate groups, which can be with learners who are a ‘bad influence’.

Critical thinking activity 7

Read the case study extract and then answer the following.

  1. What are the key points for your role and how will it inform your support of Emily?
  2. How do you think other members of staff should be involved and what would you tell other members of staff about?

Discussion

Safeguarding reports come in a mixture of formats. They can be divided up under topic headings or dates or as continuous writing, as in our example. They may stick to facts or make suggestions about approach. There is a need for you to pick out the key points, and it could be good practice to do this with a support manager.

Complex case

At first, it can be easy to be daunted by cases like Emily and not knowing where to start. However, you need to remember that all learners, whether they have complex backgrounds and needs or not, all react differently. There’s also a need to not let such information unduly influence your view of an individual. Their past experiences may not adversely affect them in a new environment in which they may, hopefully, thrive. You need to avoid putting this in danger by ‘overcompensating’, and you should strike a balance between being aware of the issues, adapting your approach appropriately and seeing a learner like Emily with fresh eyes and giving her the same opportunity as any others.

Foster care

A good starting point would be to contact those who know her best, her foster parents, about support and approach.

Unpredictable emotional states

Communication with additional support is necessary. Receiving direct support relies on Emily’s consent, but strategies such as a ‘time out card’ and ‘cooling off period’ would seem to be relevant here.

Difficulty with authority figures and taking responsibility

As we have seen, your positive approach is about the young person understanding and investing in the process of improvement rather than dictating this to them. With Emily, your one-to-ones or PLCs will be important in reinforcing this. Since you are up against a history of resistance, you should not get disheartened if progress is slow and change is incremental.

Academically, Emily excels at certain focused tasks

You need to reinforce the positive with Emily and link that to positive feelings and beliefs in one-to-one meetings and conversations. ‘How can you do more of this?’ is the key reinforcing question to use with Emily when emphasising these positives.

Involving other members of staff

There is not a need to give the specific background details to other staff who teach Emily, for example the details of the abuse suffered. As we have seen though, you can take an advisory role for other teachers regarding teaching and group strategies for Emily and adapting your own group tutorial in a similar way. Additional support staff can aid her. There is a similarity to the additional support issues of the last section: considered communication is everything. Action plans can be drawn up, with additional support and possibly involving yourself, and ideally kept on the electronic learner tracking and monitoring system. This can, in turn, inform disciplinary meetings (where it is not to be used as an excuse for poor behaviour but rather to inform and be taken into account).

A final thought on safeguarding

Finally, these can be emotionally draining issues and you need to make sure you look after yourself. Structured offloading, where you talk about your most complex cases, can be very important in reducing the likelihood of taking your worries about these issues home with you, and to reassure you that you are doing the right things and all that you can.

Summary

The personal tutor role can feel all-encompassing, and a dizzying feeling can come from the sense that almost everything in your institution is of relevance to it. Moreover, when we start, not only do we not necessarily know the answers to the questions but we may not know what questions to ask in the first place! This chapter has, hopefully, addressed both of these issues by informing you:

  • which the key procedures for the personal tutor are;
  • what the procedures are and a good practice model for each;
  • how you and others need to operate within the procedures most effectively.

Moreover, you should now have the terminology in order to further understand and enquire about how things work in your institution.

If you want to be outstanding in the role and have ambitions to progress, you need to be a constructive enquirer of those around you including those in more senior roles. You’ll need the appropriate knowledge and language to do this. There will be more on the higher-level support skills to become outstanding in the next five chapters where we also discuss the bigger picture enquiries needed when you’re aiming to be outstanding.

We were feeling generous so that’s a slightly longer extract for you. Go to our website to buy the book and to check out what other texts are right for you!

Planning the Perfect Lesson

Good morning and welcome! Enjoy our next extract from ‘Becoming an Outstanding Tutor’ which includes a checklist on planning a positively perfect lesson.

pg 71, Critical thinking activity 10

The following short checklist of points (adapted from an article by David Didau, entitled ‘Planning a “Perfect” Lesson’ (Didau, 2012, online)) can contribute to delivering effective and engaging teaching, learning and assessment. Using this checklist, identify the similarities and differences between what you believe is good curriculum lesson delivery and good group tutorial delivery.

Page-71-table

Please don’t hesitate to go to our website and stay tuned for the last extract entry tomorrow!

What is a Personal Tutor?

So it’s a Wednesday afternoon and time for our third exclusive from Ben Walker and Andrew Stork‘s new book ‘Becoming an Outside Personal Tutor’. Enjoy and keep watching this space for more extracts throughout the week.

p.9: The definition of the personal tutor

Here, we define the personal tutor. But remember, in this book we shall explore what it means to be an outstanding personal tutor.

The personal tutor is one who improves the intellectual and academic ability, and nurtures the emotional well-being, of learners through individualised, holistic support.

What constitutes emotional well-being is discussed later in the book.

In addition to this definition, we want to bring in the highly important and valuable element of coaching. Personal tutoring and coaching can be seen as separate, but the model of the outstanding personal tutor includes coaching elements within it.

For more information, please visit our website. See you all tomorrow!

Do Teachers and Personal Tutors Need Supervision too?

Another day, another exclusive entry for you! Ben Walker, the co-writer of ‘Becoming an Outstanding Personal Tutor’ tells us about the importance of support for teachers and personal tutors.

You wouldn’t believe what’s going on with that student…I’ve no idea what to do.”  Heard yourself uttering something like this quite often to your colleagues?  What is the response?  Imagine this.  A colleague immediately stops what they’re doing, turns round to face you, looks you in the eye with a concentrated gaze and says, “I’m here to help, tell me all about it”.  When did that last happen?  Has it ever happened?   Of course, your colleagues aren’t being deliberately unhelpful.  At least one hopes that is the case!  The conflicting pressures on all of us make it difficult for us to drop our current activity to support a colleague.

Providing outstanding support comes with the bi-products of students opening up to you more, relying on you for emotional support, wanting even more support and thus exposing you to challenging, emotionally draining and potentially upsetting issues.  Combined with the whirlwind life of the trainee teacher, the question of how to cope before it all becomes overwhelming needs to be explored.

Long established in psychotherapy and counselling for example, supervision is less so in education.  Most definitions imply that supervision relies on a structure and certain rules.  There can be some differences within this, so maybe it is more useful to think of a framework of guidelines within which supervision sessions should be carried out.

A framework for supervision sessions:

How often?

  • a reasonable regularity needs maintaining for keeping momentum going and possibly revisiting issues and reviewing progress.

Who is invited?

  • a small group of your peers at work (group supervision) or a one to one with a peer or your manager (‘paired’ or ‘individual’ supervision);
  • in the case of the former, the line manager doesn’t attend or only if specifically invited. Reasons for this:
  • to avoid the manager leading and, possibly even without knowing, driving an agenda and seeing himself or herself as there to ‘solve’ issues;
  • exploration of the issue is reduced;
  • participants will feel more free to express feelings they may have about the issue without a potential fear of looking ‘weak’ or ‘not coping’ in front of their manager;
  • supervision is differentiated from other typical work meetings.   

What are the ground rules?

  • use of a confidential space;
  • a specific amount of time is given;
  • one person to talk at a time;
  • clarity over whose issues will be aired that session; it may be that it is only 1 or 2 per session;
  • this lead contributor(s) to start the session outlining the issue along with their concerns / questions;
  • concentration on that issue and the contributor’s concern and questions without digression from this or others bringing in their concerns;
  • focus on open questions from the group enabling the lead contributor to find their own solutions.

The support side of the teacher role can feel like you’re more of a social worker than teacher. Given the demands on you in the face of serious and challenging issues with students who you want to support as best you can, if supervision sessions were built into your working routine, how helpful would it be?

See our website for more information and keep an eye on our blog for more from the authors of ‘Becoming an Outstanding Personal Tutor’.